Towards gender equality in health in Afghanistan

Type Journal Article - Global public health
Title Towards gender equality in health in Afghanistan
Volume 9
Issue sup1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Page numbers S76-S92
The Afghanistan gender inequality index shows that 70% loss in development is due to the limited participation of women in the workforce, low education and poor women's health outcomes. However, since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2002, gender inequalities in health have improved. This paper will review factors that led to these improvements. The review draws upon information from various sources, including formative and applied research, surveys and existing information systems. The review showed gender differentials in morbidity, mortality and accessing and utilising health services. Health professionals have expressed inadequate medical knowledge and interpersonal skills to address sensitive issues, such as domestic, physical and sexual violence. Discussing sexuality and its impact on health remains taboo both within and outside of the medical profession. Strict cultural norms restrict a woman's autonomy to seek health care, choose a marriage partner and have control over her body, indicating a need to increase awareness about how harmful social practices adversely affect health. The policy review showed that the Ministry of Public Health has made a commitment to reducing gender inequity in health and developed a two-pronged action plan to improve health providers' skills in handling gender-sensitive issues and mass media campaigns to change social norms.

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